Lessons from the Pandemic for Small Kitchen and Bath Refinishing Businesses
2020 reminded us that life -- including business life -- is all about adapting. And while the COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly the most impactful thing to have happened in many Americans' lifetimes, it is another life event that must be adapted to. Today, the most successful businesses are those that best understood this importance. Businesses and entrepreneurs, including kitchen and bath refinishers, who saw the pandemic as something of a teaching experience and were able to learn and adapt, ultimately came out in better shape. The following is a look at a few of what we see as the most important lessons from the pandemic refinishers and entrepreneurs should consider for a thriving business.
Key Lessons From the Pandemic for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
1. Knowing how and when to delegate tasks to other employees. Operating a small business means that you have to wear a lot of hats, and it is understandable to feel responsible for every single aspect of your business. But it isn't possible to wear every hat effectively. The pandemic's craziness with its shifting regulations, safety advisements, tax breaks, and many more has meant that there are even more things that businesses have to be aware of and tasks that have to be completed to stay ahead. The lesson here is that being more open to delegating tasks to knowledgeable employees leaves more room for you to focus on running a successful company.
2. Take inventory of your products. Although this should be done on an ongoing basis, we learned from the pandemic that it's a good idea to have more than enough product on hand so when deliveries are pushed and shipping delays arise, you are more than ready for it. Don't put yourself in a position not to be able to take on a client's job just because you don't have the necessary product onhand.
3. Review marketing strategies. We have written extensively about this in previous blogs, but it bears emphasizing again. You have to keep your messaging up-to-date with global events. In addition, staying up-to-date with your target audience and knowing who your customers are and how you get them will allow you to continue to effectively communicate with prospective clients even during global crises. Understanding what's important to them, for example, knowing your safety precautions ahead of time could make or break their commitment.
4. Review safety protocols to look for ways to increase safety. With the pandemic, we’ve learned that people are being safer now and see the importance of preventing disease spread, such as keeping high-touch surfaces clean and paying more attention to overall cleanliness, something refinishers were already implementing before as standard protocol. Even once COVID-19 is gone, refinishers should keep up many of the same disease-limiting safety protocols as the new standard to keep employees and customers safer from viruses like the flu. Including your daily safety etiquettes in all of your marketing eases any concerns that customers may have and may make them feel more comfortable committing right off the bat.
5. Review processes to improve efficiency. A significant change office workers saw throughout the pandemic was the increase of remote work, which reduced many companies' operating expenses. For refinishers, you might also consider using a remote worker to field calls or complete data working, or you might look at other processes such as ordering that could be streamlined to save costs.
6. Review customer-centric practices. In our previous blogs, we stressed the importance of why the idea of "HOME" should be the emphasis in your marketing due to how the pandemic has changed the very meaning of our homes. Likewise, you should look at all of your other customer-centric practices and consider changing what gets emphasized and what can be cut for being no longer relevant post-pandemic. In addition, consider what's most important to your customers and make sure you are providing that information ahead of time. For example, is having before and after photos of related work going to land you the job sooner? Always take the time to evaluate how you can stay in the field of vision of all your current and future clients.
7. Demonstrate consistency. With so many things changing, customers and employees want consistency now more than ever. Be that consistent boss and consistent refinisher for all your clients. Implement new technologies and processes where needed and make sure your business projects a someone you can trust attitude in everything you do.
8. Monitor gross profit margin and profitability more than once a year. Don't wait for tax season to check your profitability. Start doing this at least every season so you can ensure maximum profitability. Use this in tandem with the aforementioned delegation tip to prevent feeling overwhelmed by the excess work.
Successful businesses need to learn how to adapt and survive in all situations. The essentials of a successful business don't entirely change during global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the ability to remain flexible and adhere to all situations will allow the same businesses to thrive during these challenging times.